EUROPEANS IN THE NBA
|Dario Saric from Croatia was the first European player selected in the NBA Draft 2014|
FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year for 2013 Dario Saric, who was selected with the number 12 overall pick, headlines the 11-strong European contingent in Thursday night's NBA Draft.
In addition to Saric, a further three of these 11 European players were selected in the first round of the Draft (first 30 picks).
The 20-year-old Croatian prodigy was picked by the Orlando Magic but then immediately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
"Dario is an extremely versatile and highly accomplished player at various international levels," commented Philadelphia's General Manager, Sam Hinkie.
"His basketball instincts, his ability to pass and his desire for greatness drew us to him.
"Our staff has tracked him across the globe for many years now, and we were ecstatic to be able to acquire him," Hinkie admitted.
Saric in any case will not make the jump to the NBA this summer, as he recently decided to join Euroleague side Anadolu Efes Istanbul and work under legendary coach Dusan Ivkovic.
The versatile Croatian forward, who led Cibona Zagreb to the Adriatic ABA League crown in May and was named both Most Improved Player and Finals MVP, confirmed on American soil, just prior to the NBA Draft ceremony, his intention to play in Istanbul for the foreseeable future.
"I am ready for the NBA but I think it's better for me to spend two more seasons in Europe," Saric said.
"If the chance arises to come here [to the USA] at the end of next year I might do it, but in any case I will stay in Europe for another two years maximum.
"After that, it is 100% certain that I will come to the NBA club that picks me (Saric did not yet know he would end up at the Sixers) and I will fight with all I have to earn a place in the starting line-up."
The NBA stock of young Bosnia and Herzegovina international Jusuf Nurkic, who competed against Saric in the Adriatic league finals, rose exponentially during the course of the season.
On Thursday, the Cedevita Zagreb center, who has proclaimed he would be willing to start playing in the NBA immediately, was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 16th overall pick and then traded to the Denver Nuggets.
Nurkic delivered his credentials on the international stage in the summer of 2012, when he averaged a tournament double-double of 19.4 points and 13.3 rebounds to lead Bosnia and Herzegovina to the U18 European Championship Division B gold medal and, consequently, promotion to Division A.
Similarly to Nurkic, Clint Capela debuted with his senior national team last summer and then went on to have a break-out season with his club.
On Thursday, Capela was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 25th overall pick.
|Clint Capela was selected by the Houston Rockets|
The Swiss forward/center had averaged 12.9 points and 8.9 rebounds for his country in the EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round and contributed 9.9 points and 7.3 boards per game to Chalon/Saône's regular season campaign in the French Pro A league.
"Clint's wingspan is second only to Anthony Davis, he can rebound, block shots at a high level," said Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey.
"He's a great kid, we had him in Houston early in the process.
"He's young. The draft is all about upside and we think this guy has a real chance to be a very high level player in the league."
Bogdan Bogdanovic, who turned heads at EuroBasket 2013 and then made headlines all over Europe with his MVP performances for Partizan Belgrade in the recent Serbian KLS finals, is the fourth European to be selected in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft.
The Serbian guard was selected at the 27th spot by another western conference franchise, the Phoenix Suns.
"Bogdan Bogdanovic is one of the top players in Europe," stated Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough.
"He is 6-foot-6 (1.98m), good strength.
"He's been very productive in the Adriatic League and the Euroleague as well.
"He's a fairly proven commodity for a 22-year-old player.
"We anticipate that he'll return to Europe and play with Partizan, we'll be very interested in his development."
French forward Damien Inglis, who impressed at last summer's U18 European Championship, was the first pick of the second round in the Draft, selected by the Milwaukee Bucks at number 31.
Nikola Jokic was the first of three players in this Draft to come from Serbian club Mega Vizura.
The 19-year-old Serbian center, who featured in last September's FIBA Europe U18 All Star Game, was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the number 41 overall pick.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo of Greece, brother of Bucks forward Giannis who had an excellent rookie season in the NBA, was selected by the New York Knicks at the 51st spot, ahead of a further three European players.
Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic, also of Mega Vizura, was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 52nd overall pick.
Just behind him, the Minnesota Timberwolves got Italian international Alessandro Gentile, the captain of EA7 Armani Milano.
Meanwhile Serbian shooting guard Nemanja Dangubic, the third Mega Vizura player to be picked on Thursday, and French center Louis Labeyrie of Paris Levallois concluded the presence of the European contingent in the 2014 NBA Draft when they were selected by Philadelphia with the 54th and Indiana with 57th overall picks. Labeyrie was then immediately traded to the New York Knicks.